Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thursday 27th November, 2008 – Gaza City , Gaza Strip, Palestine
Three Palestinian trawling vessels confiscated by Israeli naval forces whilst fishing in Gazan territorial waters on 18th November were returned today. Fifteen Palestinian fishermen were also abducted during the operation but have since been released.
The fishing boats, held in Ashdod , were transferred into Palestinian waters six nautical miles offshore at approximately 16:00 Gaza time and reached the port of Gaza City shortly before 18:00.
This action follows an appeal filed yesterday in the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of the vessels' owners for the return of their property. Lawyers intended to challenge the arbitrary limits imposed on Gazan fishermen by the Israeli navy which contravene prior agreements and international regulations.
The boats' captains reported damage to their vessels – indeed one trawler had to be towed in by a second due to engine damage. Equipment such as GPS devices were also missing. The fishermen's loss of earnings over the last ten days is still being estimated.
The three human rights observers from the International Solidarity Movement who were accompanying the fishermen at the time of the Israeli assault were held at Maasiyahu detention centre in Ramle, despite charges never having been brought against them. All have now been illegally deported by the Israeli authorities. Vittorio Arrigoni was deported to Italy on Sunday 23rd November, Andrew Muncie to the UK on Tuesday 25th and Darlene Wallach to the US early on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The ISM Gaza Strip team joined over 50 Palestinian fishermen on a demonstration to call for an end to the siege of Gaza – both on the land and in the sea. As Israel’s stranglehold tightens day by day, Gazan fishermen and farmers struggle to provide a local food source for a population under siege. This is in the face of arbitrary restrictions imposed on them by Israeli occupation forces.
Israel has declared a six-mile limit on the Gazan fishing zone, contrary to prior agreements and international regulations. This limit is dictated solely by the gun and Gazan fishermen endure daily aggression from Israeli naval gunboats, resulting in injuries and damage to their boats. 15 fishermen have been killed by the Israeli navy since 2000.

The fishermen also protested against the abduction of 15 of their colleagues from Gazan territorial waters on 18th November, who have since been released. They demanded the return of three of their trawling vessels confiscated by the Israeli navy during the same operation, depriving hundreds of people of a livelihood. They also opposed the illegal detention of three International Solidarity Movement volunteers who were accompanying them at the time.

Fishermen carried banners with slogans including:
“No to the occupation piracy in Palestinian waters. Yes to fishing freedom.”

The fishermen marched from Gaza City port to the headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, where they spoke to a UN representative. There were also speakers from the Fishing Syndicate, PNGO and the Palestinian Campaign against the Siege.